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L2S Visa Work Authorization for L Spouses - No EAD Needed If L2S on I-94

Updated: 2 days ago

L2S Visa and Work Authorization: USCIS has updated the work authorization policy for L spouses (those with L2S on their I-94 form). L2S visa holders can now use their nonimmigrant status as evidence of employment authorization, eliminating the need for a separate EAD card. The L2S class admission code on their I-94 document serves as proof of employment authorization.

Reference USCIS guidance for L and E spouses: An unexpired Form I-94 reflecting one of these new codes: E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization for spouses under List C of Form I-9.

L2s Work Authorization

Table of Contents: L2S Visa and Work Authorization

L2S Visa

Meaning: L2S is the COA (Class of Admission) category code mentioned on the I-94 document for L spouses. It's important to note that the L2 visa stamp - the class remains the same as "L2". It is only on the I-94 form that you will notice the new class of admission code L2S.

Class of Admission L2S

In Jan 2022, USCIS and CBP started issuing I-94 forms with the new class of action codes for E & L spouses. A few of these codes are E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. So if you are a spouse of an L-1 visa holder, you will notice the Class of Admission type as L2S on the I-94 form.

Can L2 work without EAD?

Yes, L2 visa holders with an L2S class of admission on their I-94 are automatically authorized to work without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). In short, L2S visas don't require EAD, unlike other visas where you need EAD to work in the US such as H4 visas, J2 visas, etc.

Applying for an EAD is a time-consuming process (typically takes 3 to 6 months) that can only be done when you are physically present in the US. However, on L2S status, you are free from all these hassles.

L2S Visa I-94

This is a sample I-94 form with the latest travel of 2023 where you will see Class of Admission as L2S. If you are a spouse of an L-1 visa holder, you will notice the same on your I-94 form if you have traveled after Jan 2022. On older I-94 forms you will still notice the L2 class of admission code.

L2S Visa I-94

Before delving into further details, it's essential to have a basic understanding of the L1 visa, as the L2S or L-2 visa is entirely dependent on the primary L1 visa holder. If the primary L1 visa holder loses their job or falls out of status, the L2 visa holder automatically becomes out of status as well.

What is an L1 Visa?

Meaning: The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category enabling multinational companies to transfer certain employees from foreign offices to the United States. The purpose of the L1 visa is to allow employees to transfer skills, expertise, and knowledge from their foreign employer to the U.S. branch or affiliate.

  • To qualify for an L1 visa, an employee must have worked for the foreign company for at least one continuous year within the past three years.

  • Depending on the type of L1 visa they qualify for, employees can work in the U.S. for up to five or seven years.

Types of L1 Visa

There are two types of L1 visas:

  • L1A Visa: This is for intracompany transferees who work in a managerial or executive capacity. It allows qualified employees to work in the U.S. for up to seven years.

  • L1B Visa: This is for intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge. It is meant for employees with specialized skills or knowledge related to the company's products, services, research, systems, or procedures. The L1B visa allows for a stay of up to five years.

What is an L2 Visa?

Meaning: The L1 visa holders can bring their dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21) to the US, and these dependents are granted an L2 visa. L2 dependents, classified under the L2S admission category, are associated with their respective L1 spouses, as explained earlier.

How to Apply for an L2 Visa?

To apply for an L2 visa, although the company sponsoring the primary L1 visa holder generally helps in the application process, you will be following these steps:

  • Complete Form DS-160: Complete the online nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-160) on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website.

  • Pay the Visa Fee: Pay the non-refundable L2 visa application fee of $205. This might change in the future so it's better to check DOS website.

  • Schedule a Visa Interview: Schedule a visa interview appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy.

  • L2 Visa Interview Documents: Prepare the necessary documentation for L2 visa interview, including:

    • Appointment confirmation page

    • DS-160 confirmation page with barcode

    • Valid and original passport

    • Visa application fee payment receipt

    • Passport-sized photograph

    • Supporting documents from the L1 visa holder like

      • Copy of passport and visa pages

      • L1 petition approval notice, Form I-129

      • Employment letter

      • Last 3 months of pay-slips (for financial proof)

    • Marriage certificate and photo album of wedding

    • Birth certificate

  • Attend Visa Interview: Attend the scheduled visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship to the L1 visa holder, your intent to travel to the United States, and your ties to India.

  • Biometric Appointment (if required): Provide biometric information, such as fingerprints and photographs, at the Visa Application Center (VAC) if biometric enrollment is required.

  • Await Visa Decision: After the interview, await the decision on your visa application. If approved, your passport will be returned to you with the L2 visa stamp.

  • Prepare for Travel: Once you receive your passport with the L2 visa, make necessary travel arrangements to the United States.

L2 Visa Processing Time

If an L2 visa is applied separately, the processing time can vary between 2 to 4 weeks. Typically, L2 visas are applied for concurrently with L1 visas. However, additional time may be required if the U.S. consulate requests further documents, and processing times may vary on a case-by-case basis.

L2 Visa to Green Card

L1 visa holders can apply for a Green Card through the employment-based category. L2 visa holders i.e. dependents of L1 automatically get the green card along with the L1 primary applicant.

You can find detailed information about employment-based green cards and their current priority dates here. You will need this now or in the future (when you file for a green card), so it's good to save this link.

  • For a green card, after filing the I-140, which is the first step in the green card process, you may need to wait for the priority date to become current before filing the second and final step, the adjustment of status (I-485).

  • If your priority date becomes current within the maximum allowed stay on an L1 visa, which is either five or seven years depending on the type (L1A or L1B), you can file for I-485 and you may not need to return to your home country.

  • But if the priority date has a long wait time, especially for countries like India, you must go back to your home country and wait for it to become current. Your approved L1 I-140 will stay valid during this waiting period.

  • It's important to note that L1 visa holders cannot extend their stay beyond five or seven years based on the I-140 petition, unlike H1B visa holders who can extend their stay even after six years with an approved I-140 (from the first step of green card application).

  • It's good to ask your employer to apply for the H1B lottery each year to potentially transfer to H1B. With an H1B, your previously approved L1 I-140 can be transferred, allowing you to extend your stay and work in the U.S. similar to other H1B visa holders.

FAQs on L2S visa

Can an L2 visa holder work in the USA?

Yes, an L2 visa holder can work in the USA and can use their latest class of admission L2S from I-94 as proof of employment authorization.

How to apply for EAD for L2?

There is no requirement to apply for L2 EAD if you have the "L2S" category on the I-94 form. If not, you can file form I-765 with USCIS (old process). It's convenient to get I-94 updated, instead of applying for EAD which is a more time-consuming process.

Does an L2 visa require sponsorship?

No, L2 visa holders do not require any sponsorship to work. You can work anywhere as a full-time employee without the need for sponsorship.

Can L2S visa holder get SSN?

Yes, L2S visa holders are eligible for an SSN; however, it's important to note that this eligibility applies only to spouses (S) and not to their dependent children.

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